5 essential takeaways from IBC 2019


by Marco Lorenzi


by Marco Lorenzi

The 2019 edition of IBC is now in the books. Amsterdam welcomed thousands of visitors, delegates and exhibitors from all over the world, for what is known as ‘the show to be at’ for anyone working at the forefront of the broadcast industry. We attended in force, bringing our expertise, and a range of solutions and products to the public eye.

Deltatre’s focus on the OTT space has attracted the interest of a number of operators and various stakeholders in the past few years. With strong positioning as the company that powers the world’s leading video experiences, we proudly talked to our customers and visitors about our market-leading products and solutions. For the first time, DIVA, the video player that combines real-time data and richer interactivity, is now accompanied by AXIS, the global leader in targeted UX management, under the Massive Video Experience Suite - a collection of products geared to helping sports and entertainment operators maximise fan engagement.

We made time to walk through the many stands at the RAI, and we boarded our flight back home with a notepad full of post-its. Here are our 5 essential takeaways from IBC 2019 so you can stay on top of the trends of an industry that never sleeps.

#1. OTT is everywhere, and it’s ever-evolving

Over-the-top has been the absolute leitmotif of this year’s IBC - to the extent that OTT is now pointed to by many as ‘the new TV’. Clearly, broadcast is evolving. It’s expanding the horizon of opportunities that a non-linear offering brings. OTT can do what linear cannot - delivery a highly personalised and interactive experience. The pillar of the traditional TV market structure continues to evolve from what was once nation-based TV services to global media groups, which control the whole content value chain.

What stands out are the figures. OTT viewing is on the rise, with +130% hours of consumption growth from 2018 to 2019. Consumption on mobile rose by more than 109% in the last 12 months. And big screens are taking the lead in the most popular device for live and on-demand content, with a 143% year-on-year increase in connected TV viewing.

These two trends were touched on by Deltatre’s Chief Evangelist, Carlo De Marchis. Speaking at the Google Booth about targeted user experience and - specifically - how this can be delivered across a growing platform, Android TV, Carlo highlighted that maximising the user experience across devices is no longer a nice to have; it’s a must. The biggest takeaway was a simple, yet noteworthy - success is defined by what you can build, how fast you can deploy, and how easily you can evolve.

#2. What about fan engagement?

Being able to continuously satisfy the appetite for the ‘unforgettable’ seems to be the top requirement for OTT operators. Fans’ expectations are changing, and they’re more discerning than ever. The baseline for ‘acceptable’ has never been higher. Audiences’ taste and behaviour are always changing, and today competition is fiercer than ever.

Not only are operators now battling within their own league or sector, but they are also competing with life and a wider range of opportunities for people to make the most of their leisure time. Think about sports practiced outdoors, or the rise in consumption of podcasts, for example. Operators need to work harder to keep their demanding audiences engaged and glued to their screens through a deeper and more personalised experience.

It’s important to note that personalisation doesn’t mean just content recommendations. Of course, these are a valuable form of personalisation, but relying solely on them can result in a quite impersonal experience. The crux is this; to make recommendations more effective, one trend is to move beyond passive (‘watch more like this’, ‘because you watched this’) and towards active recommendations. Something that pushes the next video or trailer on the user immediately.

#3. Technology will change the world, again

Several reports published over the past 12 months, including Deltatre ‘Where the money is going: the future of sports entertainment’, highlighted consumers’ views about the next big things in technology.

5G is expected to revolutionise the way users consume content, both live and on-demand. We live in the era of a connected society, but this jump to above to 5G will make operators more mobile in production. This will represent a real benefit to the end consumer as they will now have access to unprecedented speed and to use mobile in the same way fibre is used for home broadband connections. It means that seamless live experiences won’t be only available at home - they’ll be available everywhere, and on every device. Highly personalised user experiences will be one tap away even when on-the-go or on venue. This brings more opportunities for operators to monetise their audiences in new and exciting ways.

We also heard whispers around the rise of augmented reality and virtual reality, which are expected to play a crucial role in how consumers engage with content. Both VR and AR have the potential to add new layers to the fan experience. A study published by Greenlight Insights in 2017 stated that the worldwide market for VR is growing tenfold to US $75 billion by the end of 2021. We’re keeping our eyes peeled to see what’s going to happen next.

#4. Direct-to-consumer to enhance monetisation

The fervent OTT interest on display at IBC also suggested a common appetite for rights holders in sports and live events in general. The exploration of direct-to-consumer models is a growing trend, with initial steps made by organisations such as Formula One and the NBA, and with more to follow shortly. Many rights owners, however, are expert storytellers and don’t necessarily have the technical expertise in-house to bring their content to market through owned and operated streaming services.

There is demand and appetite for content - that much is obvious - but not leveraging the best available resource, either internal or external, to build best-in-class streaming services leads to missed opportunities. For fans, a lacklustre experience around the content they want to watch; for rights holders, an inability to develop a deep and sticky relationship. Most importantly, in an age of OTT in which delivering measurable ROI is imperative, these missed opportunities ultimately result in missed monetisation and loss of market share..

#5. Will data rule the world?

One of the most recurrent topics of discussion at IBC 2019 was centred around data. Only 5% of companies, today, are truly capable of consolidating data into actionable insights. And this, undoubtedly, makes it difficult for operators to reduce the time that separates content generation to its deployment to market.

Targeted personalisation requires quality data and tools that can keep track and maintain the user states across multiple devices. Many businesses are using multiple analytics systems to capture the several facets of the user experience. Yet, many still lack the ability to consolidate these data points back into a single representation of the customer. This is fundamental when measuring meaningful personalisation.

It then becomes key to make insights more accessible to operators, for a leaner process of ‘quality control’ and to allow organisations to close the feedback loop and inform business decisions in a more impactful way.

Closing thoughts

These are just a few insights of an intense week at IBC 2019. Deltatre welcomed clients, partners and friends to its stand and played an important role in having a voice on the future of a restless and ever-evolving industry. Next year’s IBC will most likely show more growth and innovation for the OTT space and the broadcast industry in general. We look forward to it.


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